Ahead of Debate, Paul Ryan Takes on Joe Biden

Sep 30, 2012 6:54am
ap paul ryan lt 120930 wblog Ahead of Debate, Paul Ryan Takes on Joe Biden

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Less than two weeks before Paul Ryan and Joe Biden face off on the debate stage, Paul Ryan took on his counterpart on the issues of Social Security and Medicare. The GOP vice presidential nominee almost always saves his rhetorical fire for the top of the Democratic ticket but Saturday he aimed to rebut a claim the vice president made on the campaign trail in Florida Friday.

“Just down in Florida yesterday Vice President Biden was making up all new falsehoods about Social Security and taxes,” Ryan said at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s annual banquet, an event for hunters and fishermen Saturday. “They’re trying to scare people for political gain. That’s unfortunately the kind of campaign that we’re seeing, as I said with a president without a record to run on. Let me be very clear: There is only one person in this race threatening the health and retirement security programs of our seniors and that is President Obama. There is only one person in this race insisting on raising taxes and that is President Obama. In fact, Joe Biden himself voted to raise taxes on social security benefits and as a senator, President Obama voted to keep those tax increases in place three times.”

Ryan continued saying his ticket “will never waiver in our commitment to our seniors.”

“Our plans actually save these programs, they make no changes for people in or near retirement, they strengthen Medicare and Social Security for a generation,” Ryan said. “And you know why we do this? Because it’s a promise that was made. It’s because people organized their retirements around these promises. They paid their taxes when they worked and now these benefits are due to them. And shame on the politician who wants to use this issue to try and scare seniors when those of us who are out there trying to fix this problem for my generation and my kids’ generation and your kids.”

Speaking at the Century Village retirement community in Boca Raton, Fla. Friday Joe Biden said the Romney-Ryan plan would raise taxes on Social Security and they would turn Medicare into “vouchercare.”

“If Gov. Romney’s plan goes into effect, it could mean that everyone, every one of you, would be paying more on taxes on your Social Security,” Biden said. “The average senior would have to pay $460 a year more in taxes for their Social Security. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s … while these guys are … hemorrhaging tax cuts for the super wealthy.”

Biden’s claim is based on a Tax Policy Center analysis that tried to explain some of Romney’s economic goals – cutting taxes by 20 percent, closing undisclosed loopholes and balancing the budget. Romney’s plan does not specify that he would achieve such goals by raising taxes on Social Security. When Romney unveiled his plan in 2011, he promised there would be no tax hikes on Social Security benefits.

Although the vice president accused the GOP ticket of raising taxes on Social Security, while serving in the senate he voted for President Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget which raises taxes on Social Security benefits, something both the Romney and Ryan camps were eager to point out.

What Biden is referring to as “vouchercare” is Ryan’s Medicare plan. Romney has said his plan for Medicare is nearly “identical” to his running mate’s. Although Ryan rejects the term voucher it would replace the current Medicare system with a plan where beneficiaries would be paid an amount by the government that they would use toward private insurance premiums. Ryan’s plan would not affect current seniors and although critics, including Biden, say seniors would end up paying more Ryan defends his plan saying it’s the only way to save Medicare from going completely bankrupt.

Ryan and Biden’s debate will take place on Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. and it will be moderated by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. Ryan will take some time for debate prep this coming week heading to Virginia, after a bus tour through Iowa, to get ready for the face off. His debate sparring partner and Joe Biden stand-in is former Solicitor General Ted Olson.

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report. 

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